Universal Sustainability

“Sustainability can’t be like some sort of a moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. It has to be a design challenge”

— Bjarke Ingels

At the intersection of environment, cultural heritage and humanity

“From the moment the idea for Zanat first slipped into conversation, the concept for the company has been much more than building a brand that is known only for quality and innovativeness of its products. We were a team of people with backgrounds in sustainable development, social justice, architecture, and relief work. However – we all shared a passion for design and wood. We dreamed of a company that applied the same attention to designing and making beautiful objects for improving not only the spaces we inhabit but also the greater community and the world. We call this practice Universal Sustainability. We aim for the effect of every significant action that we as a business take to be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Today we are living that dream, as we have earned a reputation of a trail blazer in different aspects of sustainability and social responsibility. For us, this is equally gratifying as the commercial success and numerous design awards we have received. In other words, sustainability is at the very heart of our craft. The only way forward. A welcomed opportunity to contribute to our community, while recognizing how interconnected we all are. Join us in our commitment. We are all responsible.

“Our commitment to Universal Sustainability is guided by the following principles: PROTECT, DEVELOP, PROMOTE.”


HANDICRAFTS – KEY ELEMENT OF HUMANITY’S CULTURAL HERITAGE When we decided to modernize the four-generations old Nikšić family business, the experts we consulted advised that we should abandon traditional woodcarving and modernize both design and production processes, where same tools have been used to carve wood for over a century. Nevertheless, we decidedly announced that hand-carved details will be a core element of Zanat’s design identity, even if our friends deemed our idea aesthetically and economically anachronistic. We were stubbornly convinced that fine craftsmanship cannot become a thing of the past. We’ve known that skilled craftsman can add value that even the nest machines cannot match. We also knew that craftsmanship stems directly from a profoundly human drive to achieve perfection working with one’s own hands. Craftsmanship offers an escape from increasingly lookalike and impersonal products and contributes tactility to a progressively digital world. Fortunately, we met least skepticism from the visionary designers we have been working with. As a result, the future of the woodcarving tradition in Konjic is no longer threatened. We have managed to spark a woodcarving renaissance. We are inspiring young artists and design students to work with craftsman. Working with outstanding design talents, Konjic woodcarvers are innovating more than ever, inventing new patterns, textures and hand tools. On December 6, 2018, following a four-year process led by us, Konjic woodcarving was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. This, indeed, is a historic achievement that will raise awareness of Konjic and its woodcarving tradition. The inscription has awakened a sense of renewed interest and pride in their tradition among Konjic dwellers and Bosnians and it has inspired interest to protect and promote other elements of our neglected, but rich cultural heritage. In 2019 we opened the doors to the Woodcarving Museum. Zanat is preserving historic memories of the woodcarving tradition in Konjic, including the memory of several generations of craftsman and shop-owners who passed the skills down to their heirs. The museum has made these memories accessible to students and educators, to tourists and anyone curious to learn about the lives and deeds of Konjic woodcarvers, about the tools and techniques they use, about entrepreneurial ingenuity which has enabled the craft to survive two world wars, nationalization, and prohibition during socialist Yugoslavia and, the 1990s war in Bosnia. By making it our mission to promote craft-oriented design, we are trying to protect and promote other crafts in Bosnia and beyond. We have developed products that introduce hand-knitting, bronze casting, glassblowing, artisan leatherwork and metalwork. More fine crafts will be brought under the umbrella. Our aim is to enable these crafts to survive and hopefully flourish by serving as an international platform for their outstanding products.


ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS AND PRODUCTION PROCESSES 1. All Zanat’s products are made of natural, renewable, and sustainably sourced materials. Our wood comes from sustainably managed sources, located close to our company. Bosnia has one of the most abundant wood resources in Europe with 64% of its territory covered by forests. We purchase wood from sustainably managed forests, but we also buy much of our timber—such as walnut and cherry logs—from privately owned orchards. The use of old fruit-bearing trees, which are regularly planted on existing agricultural land, not only helps reduce carbon emissions, but reduces the impact of logging on indigenous forests, whose preservation is essential to biodiversity. When we use other materials, they must be natural and sustainable. We use natural leather, fabrics, wool and other materials sourced from companies that meet European environmental standards. 2. For every single tree that is cut to make a Zanat product, we are committed to plant three new ones. In 2021, we decided that we can and ought to do more than just source trees from sustainable sources. We partnered up with a local forestry management company in our town to contribute to their reforestation activities. They produce more tree seedling materials than they can plant and we are mobilizing volunteers from companies, organizations and clubs to take part in reforestation. This spring we are replanting a forest destroyed by fire. Every year we will publish figures on the approximate number of trees we used (based on average size) and the number of trees we planted. 3. We make lifelong products because a product’s longevity is a key determinant of its environmental impact. We aim to design and produce objects that can last a lifetime or even become a heirloom piece, like numerous pieces of traditional furniture produced by the Nikšić family have already become. Zanat is decidedly not driven by trends. Our focus is on timeless values: extraordinary design, quality natural materials and exceptional craftsmanship. 4. We strive to minimize waste that stems from production and product packaging. In our factory there is no wood waste. Smaller pieces of wood are utilized to make accessories and pieces of furniture like the Ombra tables. Scrap wood and sawdust is burnt in a special chamber to produce energy that is used to kiln-dry raw timber and heat the company during winter months. When it comes to product packaging, Zanat uses only biodegradable materials for accessory packaging, and we plan to eliminate any non-degradable packaging materials by 2022. 5. We contribute to other environmental causes in our community: Zanat actively contributed to endemic trout species conservation efforts in the Neretva river. Members of the Nikšić family have supported efforts to designate no fishing and catch and release zones. We have also supported efforts to prevent the construction of hydroelectric power plans, which would have a significant effect on environment and indigenous sh species. Zanat financially supported a sh hatchery which was the first one to successfully hatch and raise the endemic soft-lip trout.


HUMANISTIC, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT We see ourselves as facilitators of sustainable socioeconomic and cultural development. With this aim in mind, Zanat’s design strategy considers not only product-specific and market- specific variables, but also the impact of design on sustainability in the widest sense by considering various impacts of production, distribution, and use of our products. At Zanat, we create fulfilling jobs for craftsmen and women, offering continuous training to employees, and paying better-than-average living wages. In recent years, we have trained more than sixty young craftsman and offered employment opportunities to most. To formalize the training process, we will be launching a woodcarving academy in partnership with educational institutions. By training our staff for greater opportunities and paying our workers what their skilled work is worth—not simply what we could get away with—we ensure that we not only have the best craftsmen and women creating our products, but that our entire community benefits as well. With each person we employ our region improves its prospects.


“We are not naïve so much to think that our company alone can change the world, but we are optimistic enough to believe that if we can prove that the way we do business works—that it is sustainable—others will see the potential and join efforts to change the way business will be done tomorrow. In the end, Universal Sustainability is a simple concept: look into the most basic aspects of your business and ensure that you are proud of their impact on the company, the customer, and the world. We feel good of what we do at Zanat and hope to inspire others to pursue similar business models.” – Orhan Nikšić, Zanat CEO

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